I wrote it specifically for professionals and parents to help kids learn that having angry feelings does not make you bad; it makes you human. Learning how to effectively cope with and express those feelings in ways that enhance–rather than damage–relationships is the key.
How to Be Angry is packed with discussion-starters, games, and kid-friendly activites to help young people learn how to express their anger in assertive, relationship-building ways. It features two chapters on standing up to bullies, as well as tips on disagreeing without arguing, making and refusing requests, and responding to others’ anger.
I hope you enjoy it…check back and let me know what you think!
I got a great little note in my Inbox today from amazon.com: my pre-ordered copy of Rachel Simmon’s newly revised and updated edition of Odd Girl Out has been shipped! Hooray–SO looking forward to checking out the four new chapters of strategies and insights written directly for girls, their parents, and the professionals who work with them. Simmons is one of the pioneers of shining the light on the complexity, subtly, and often-unimaginable cruelty of bullying among young girls and in my book, one of the most innovative, articulate, and forward-thinking women I know. Can’t wait to read what she has to say in this new version of Odd Girl Out!
I adore author Rachel Simmons…this post from her wesbite is what Friendship & Other Weapons is all about…
Some days, I troll around on Facebook browsing at the silly, fun goings-on in the lives of my friends. Other days, I stumble upon the most interesting, powerful links. Today was a lucky day–one that makes me ask: with all of my work around girl bullying, how did I not know about this group?? Please check out the Kind Campaign and their incredible documentary film, Finding Kind:
Check out this great article from author and national speaker Jodee Blanco:
>No Name-Calling Week will be celebrated in schools all over the United States during the week of January 24th-28th. As teachers and counselors plan group activities and discussions around this important theme, you can emphasize the same message at home with these great children’s and tweenage reads:
Jungle Bullies is a picture book for preschoolers that uses rhyme and repetition to share important messages about standing up for yourself and learning to share. With engaging, child-friendly illustrations and inviting jungle animal characters, this is a great choice for introducing concepts about friendship and bullying to the youngest readers.
Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully by Audrey Pennhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=passivea0d-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1933718307&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
When I saw this book on the bookstore end cap, I had to reach for it right away. Penn’s The Kissing Hand has always been one of my favorite tales (to this day, my five-year old, inspired by the book, still draws hearts on her palm whenever she is missing someone) so I knew I’d want to check out whatever Penn had written.
I have to admit that in my first read of the book, I wondered if this tale about turning a bully into a pal might be too simplistic and unrealistic of a message for young kids dealing with a troublesome bullying situation. I stand firm on this first impression, but also give weight to my thoughts after a second read, which are that teaching children to extend a hand of friendship is always a positive message and good initial strategy for approaching relationships. These varied reactions are exactly what make this book a good read for young children and a great discussion starter at home.
My Secret Bully, written for tween readers, lifts the lid off of the hidden culture of relational aggression, otherwise known as girl bullying. It tells the story of Monica and Katie—two girls who have been friends since Kindergarten, but who now are facing a rift in their relationship, as Katie begins to exclude and embarrass her former friend in front of their other classmates. In tackling this painful subject of the ways in which some girls use relationships as weapons, Ludwig provides an accurate and not-often-addressed portrait of a young girl’s anguish at the hands of a frenemy. My Secret Bully is not a light-hearted portrayal of bullying, nor does it offer pat answers. But it does address an important issue in the lives of upper elementary and middle school-aged girls and can serve as a great springboard for discussions with parents.
For more information, suggested resources, and additional discussion ideas, please visit the No Name-Calling Week website.
This blog article was first posted on 3 P’s in a Pod on 1/13/11.
>Check out this story featured on The Today Show:
I happened to be watching this morning during the chaos of getting my daughters ready for school. We all put down our breakfast spoons to listen to what Ally had to say and to hear how she responded with courage and strength to this painful and public humiliation. Nothing my girls will learn in school today will compare with this great, real-life example of taking time to feel your feelings and then using them to propel you to action. In Ally’s case, she did exactly what all the bullying experts advise–she took action quickly and courageously and stood up for herself in an assertive way. Reporter Jeff Rosen calls her courage a game changer–I can only hope that both those who cowardly bully others and those who bravely stand up to mean kids will hear her experience and be moved by it.
A designer clothes boutique has partnered with me to help bring articles about parenting, bullying, and anger-expression styles to their community. The next time you are in the market for trendy baby clothing, including unique headbands, baby hats, and fashion-forward pettiskirts and tutus for little ones, please check them out.
>Has it ever happened to you that just when a heartfelt issue is going on in your own life, it keeps coming up in other places as well? Last week, I wrote about a lightbulb moment I had as far as role modeling social inclusion when planning my daughter’s birthday party (see blog post below) and this week, the same issue is dealt with on NBC’s Parenthood and ABC’s The Middle.
I haven’t been able to get The Middle Clip yet, in which Mike Heck explains to the father of a Queen Bee teenage girl (who is excluding his daughter, Sue, from a sleepover party) why it is a parent’s job to teach kids that excluding others is not OK. Have you seen it? I think I may actually have been cheering aloud. Not that the father of the Mean Girl actually seemed to learn anything…but watching Mike be a champion for his daughter was so great!
On this week’s episode of Parenthood, Christina uses every bit of strength, assertiveness, and heart she has to champion Max’s inclusion in a classmate’s party:
Have you ever done something like this to be a champion for your child? You win some, you lose some–in these two episodes, Mike seemed to make no impact, though Christina did. That’s how it goes in real life, as well as in Hollywood. But I love that the issue of social inclusion is being raised on prime-time TV and that the simplest, most basic tradition of a child’s party is highlighted as the starting point for parents teaching kids that leaving others out is NOT okay.
A designer baby clothes boutique is partnering with me to reach out to the parents in their community. This season, as you do your holiday shopping for friends and family with young kids, please check them out for their great selection of unique headbands, infant hats and baby tutus.
>To invite or not to invite: that is no longer the question for me. I had a lightbulb moment this week, in the midst of nine (I exaggerate not!) birthday party invitations for the month of November. As I plan my own daughter’s birthday party for December, the Mama-Drama of one of this month’s nine events has helped me to see kid’s invitation-only events in a whole new—and I believe enlightened—way.
So, here’s the background: my 4-year old wants to have her birthday party at a local craft store (love it!). According to the store’s rules, the guest limit is 10. As a chronic rule-follower, I began planning the guest list by the letter of the law. The initial “draft” list included my daughter’s two best girlfriends from her class, along with a host of other neighborhood and family friends. I instructed my daughter not to talk about the party in school, since the craft store’s policy did not allow extra invites. She understood and agreed. Done. Simple. I thought.
Then, a good friend of mine confided in me her hurt that her daughter had been excluded from a different party—one amongst an elementary-school group of girls. This movie-party appeared to have a small guest list as well. In our conversation, we could only speculate that the theatre had party size-limits or that the parents didn’t have enough room in their cars to drive additional girls to the theatre. Despite the mind-reading and rationalization, it left my friend—and her daughter, more importantly—feeling raw.
Flash back to my party planning. I had made my list and I had checked it twice. And then it occurred to me how very not-nice it would be for me to exclude any of the girls from my daughter’s class, lest I become “that mom.”
I do a lot of writing about relational aggression (aka: bullying) and I observe my fair share of it as the mother of two young kids. My mom-friends and I often wonder aloud: How do kids even learn to be so mean at such a young age? and Where do kids learn about leaving each other out? My pat answer is often that mean kids come from mean parents.
And then it smacked me in the face. Many mean kids do pattern their behaviors after mean parents. Others, however, learn about calculated social exclusion from their parent’s very best intentions. My birthday party list started ringing a bell—and I did not like the sound of it.
The guest list I was creating was borne out of necessity–I thought. My birthday girl deserved to pick her party place and I was just following that place’s rules. I know plenty of other moms who have abided by size-limits or chosen to keep guest lists limited so as to keep prices down. In fact, I do not know of any moms who wrote their child’s guest list with the intention of excluding a particular child. Nonetheless, in our efforts to make a party work—financially, size-wise, or whatever—we have all role-modeled a pattern of social exclusion.
My conscience literally couldn’t bear it. I didn’t want to do to the other three little girls in my daughter’s class what this other probably well-intentioned mom had done. I called the craft store, fully prepared to cancel the party and lose my deposit or offer to pay more for the three additional guests. As it turns out, I summarized what I needed and why (that I was not willing to hurt any of the girl classmates) and the party place told me they would make an exception to their policy. Hurray!
For the craft store, it was good business, of course, but for me, I feel like I grew. For too many birthday parties, I had been stuck in the follow-the-rules mindset and risked inflicting an unintentional, but painful wound on the kids I excluded. I made myself feel better by reminding myself of “the size limit” or “the additional cost” but what I know now is that those pale in comparison to teaching my daughters that it is never okay to exclude and that it’s important to go the extra mile to make everyone feel included. My daughter is quickly getting older and I am finally getting wiser.
A designer clothes boutique has partnered with me to help bring articles about parenting, bullying, and anger-expression styles to their community. As you begin your holiday shopping, please check out their website for a great selection of unique headbands, baby hats, and trendy tutus and pettiskirts.
>My daughter had her first heartbreak at the tender age of four. During the first week of her preschool class, she met a little girl named Nikki and, as so charmingly happens at that age, the two became best friends within an instant. The girls bonded over their love of Disney’s High School Musical and anything to do with singing and dancing. They quickly became a package deal inside and out of the classroom, arranging lunchdates afterschool and playdates when school was not in session.
Every morning as she was getting dressed for school, my daughter would say “I want to wear my pettiskirt and leggings today. Nikki says they are the new thing!” or “Nikki is wearing her daisy headband today. I want to wear mine!” Over the course of several weeks, all I heard was, “Nikki says this” and “Nikki likes that” and “Nikki told me I should do such and such.” I must admit I was a bit swept up in Nikki-fever as well, enjoying how much pleasure my daughter was taking from the friendship. Until the day it all ended.
On a brisk October day, my daughter experienced the cold, harshness of relational aggression—better known as bullying. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bullying occurs when a person or group repeatedly tries to harm someone who is weaker. Bully behavior takes many forms, from hitting, name calling, and teasing to social exclusion and rumor-spreading. These latter forms are termed relational aggression because of the way interpersonal relationships, most often among girls, are manipulated to settle grudges.
In my daughter’s case, relational aggression felt like a break-up…or more like getting dumped. The first incident I noticed, from my vantage point in the school hallway where parents wait to pick kids up from class, was Nikki shoving my daughter off of a chair then stealing her hat. Heart in my throat and claws ready to scratch, I calmed as I watched their teacher walk over quickly. I could hear Nikki explain, “We were just playing,” which seemed to satisfy the teacher, especially at the end of the school day.
When I asked my daughter about what I saw, she seemed unhurt by the fall, but deeply pained by Nikki’s reported words from earlier in class that same day: “You’re not my best friend anymore.” Sting. The look in my daughter’s eyes hurt me more than I ever remember being hurt by any mean girl bully from my own youth. “What did your teacher say?” I asked. “She didn’t hear Nikki say it,” my daughter explained. For those keeping score, that’s Nikki 2, Teacher 0.
Relational aggression tends to occur under the radar of adult awareness. As a form of passive aggressive behavior, the kids who behave this way know how to mask their inner hostility with an outward smile. If questioned by an authority figure, they create plausible excuses for their behavior (e.g. “It was just a game,” or “I was just kidding. Can’t you take a joke?”) Relational aggression is carried out by kids who are cunning enough to behave in ways that are socially appropriate on the surface but searingly painful behind the scenes.
In older kids, social networking sites are a prime arena for relational aggression. 24/7 access to MySpace, Twitter, texting, and instant messaging gives bullies constant access and widespread audiences for spreading rumors, causing humiliation and, when necessary, innocently denying that they ever meant any harm.
In younger children, excluding phrases like, “You’re not my best friend anymore,” and “Only girls with long hair can sit here” are spoken quietly, with an angry smile, right under a teacher’s watchful nose.
The night after “the Nikki incidents,” I heard my daughter crying in her room. When I went to ask her what was wrong, she asked me in return, “Mama, how can I change to make Nikki like me again?” This occurred years ago now, and I tell you I still get tears in my eyes recalling the night. For anyone who says the problems of kids are insignificant, I assure you that the pain caused by bullying at any age is soul-crushing.
The good news is that children are resilient and can move on. The valuable thing my daughter took from having her heart broken by a “friend” so early on is that now, she is really good about picking genuinely nice kids to hang around with and she’s the first one at a friend’s side when they are being picked on or feeling down. I heard her explain to a peer the other day, “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can really hurt too, so be careful about what you say.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.